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1.  Direct Comparison of Au3+ and C60+ Cluster Projectiles in SIMS Molecular Depth Profiling 
The sputtering properties of two representative cluster ion beams in secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), C60+ and Au3+, have been directly compared. Organic thin films consisting of trehalose and dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) are employed as prototypical targets. The strategy is to make direct comparison of the response of a molecular solid to each type of the bombarding cluster by overlapping the two ion beams onto the same area of the sample surface. The ion beams alternately erode the sample while keeping the same projectile for spectral acquisition. The results from these experiments are important to further optimize the use of cluster projectiles for SIMS molecular depth profiling experiments. For example, Au3+ bombardment is found to induce more chemical damage as well as Au implantation when compared with C60+. Moreover, C60+ is found to be able to remove the damage and the implanted Au effectively. Discussions are also presented on strategies of enhancing sensitivity for imaging applications with cluster SIMS.
doi:10.1016/j.jasms.2006.10.017
PMCID: PMC2000379  PMID: 17118671
2.  Molecular sputter depth profiling using carbon cluster beams 
Sputter depth profiling of organic films while maintaining the molecular integrity of the sample has long been deemed impossible because of the accumulation of ion bombardment-induced chemical damage. Only recently, it was found that this problem can be greatly reduced if cluster ion beams are used for sputter erosion. For organic samples, carbon cluster ions appear to be particularly well suited for such a task. Analysis of available data reveals that a projectile appears to be more effective as the number of carbon atoms in the cluster is increased, leaving fullerene ions as the most promising candidates to date. Using a commercially available, highly focused C60q+ cluster ion beam, we demonstrate the versatility of the technique for depth profiling various organic films deposited on a silicon substrate and elucidate the dependence of the results on properties such as projectile ion impact energy and angle, and sample temperature. Moreover, examples are shown where the technique is applied to organic multilayer structures in order to investigate the depth resolution across film-film interfaces. These model experiments allow collection of valuable information on how cluster impact molecular depth profiling works and how to understand and optimize the depth resolution achieved using this technique.
doi:10.1007/s00216-009-2971-x
PMCID: PMC2863088  PMID: 19649771
Molecular depth profiling; Cluster SIMS; Carbon clusters; Cluster ion beams
3.  Mass spectrometric analysis of glycosphingolipid antigens for NKT cells 
Short Abstract
A specific and sensitive method to gain insight into the expression profile of glycosphingolipid antigens in immune organs and cells is described. The method takes advantage of the ion trap mass spectrometry allowing step-wise fragmentation of glycosphingolipid molecules for structural analysis in comparison to chemically synthesized standards.
Long Abstract
Glycosphingolipids (GSL’s) belong to the glycoconjugate class of biomarcromolecules, which bear structural information for significant biological processes such as embryonic development, signal transduction, and immune receptor recognition1–2. They contain complex sugar moieties in the form of isomers, and lipid moieties with variations including fatty acyl chain length, unsaturation, and hydroxylation. Both carbohydrate and ceramide portions may be basis of biological significance. For example, tri-hexosylceramides include globotriaosylceramide (Galα4Galβ4Glcβ1Cer) and isoglobotriaosylceramide (Galα3Galβ4Glcβ1Cer), which have identical molecular masses but distinct sugar linkages of carbohydrate moiety, responsible for completely different biological functions3–4. In another example, it has been demonstrated that modification of the ceramide part of alpha-galactosylceramide, a potent agonist ligand for invariant NKT cells, changes their cytokine secretion profiles and function in animal models of cancer and auto-immune diseases5. The difficulty in performing a structural analysis of isomers in immune organs and cells serve as a barrier for determining many biological functions6.
Here, we present a visualized version of a method for relatively simple, rapid, and sensitive analysis of glycosphingolipid profiles in immune cells7–9. This method is based on extraction and chemical modification (permethylation, see below Figure 5A, all OH groups of hexose were replaced by MeO after permethylation reaction) of glycosphingolipids10–15, followed by subsequent analysis using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/MS) and ion trap mass spectometry. This method requires 50 million immune cells for a complete analysis. The experiments can be completed within a week. The relative abundance of the various glycosphingolipids can be delineated by comparison to synthetic standards. This method has a sensitivity of measuring 1% iGb3 among Gb3 isomers, when 2 fmol of total iGb3/Gb3 mixture is present9.
Ion trap mass spectrometry can be used to analyze isomers. For example, to analyze the presence of globotriaosylceramide and isoglobtriaosylceramide in the same sample, one can use the fragmentation of glycosphingolipid molecules to structurally discriminate between the two (see below Figure 5). Furthermore, chemical modification of the sugar moieties (through a permethylation reaction) improves the ionization and fragmentation efficiencies for higher sensitivity and specificity, and increases the stability of sialic acid residues. The extraction and chemical modification of glycosphingolipids can be performed in a classic certified chemical hood, and the mass spectrometry can be performed by core facilities with ion trap MS instruments.
doi:10.3791/4224
PMCID: PMC3664971  PMID: 23628911
Functional glycomics; glycosphingolipids; antigens; natural killer T cells; MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry; LTQ ion trap mass spectrometer
4.  Metal and complementary molecular bioimaging in Alzheimer's disease 
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly, affecting over 27 million people worldwide. AD represents a complex neurological disorder which is best understood as the consequence of a number of interconnected genetic and lifestyle variables, which culminate in multiple changes to brain structure and function. These can be observed on a gross anatomical level in brain atrophy, microscopically in extracellular amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangle formation, and at a functional level as alterations of metabolic activity. At a molecular level, metal dyshomeostasis is frequently observed in AD due to anomalous binding of metals such as Iron (Fe), Copper (Cu), and Zinc (Zn), or impaired regulation of redox-active metals which can induce the formation of cytotoxic reactive oxygen species and neuronal damage. Metal chelators have been administered therapeutically in transgenic mice models for AD and in clinical human AD studies, with positive outcomes. As a result, neuroimaging of metals in a variety of intact brain cells and tissues is emerging as an important tool for increasing our understanding of the role of metal dysregulation in AD. Several imaging techniques have been used to study the cerebral metallo-architecture in biological specimens to obtain spatially resolved data on chemical elements present in a sample. Hyperspectral techniques, such as particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM), synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (SXRF), secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), and laser ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) can reveal relative intensities and even semi-quantitative concentrations of a large set of elements with differing spatial resolution and detection sensitivities. Other mass spectrometric and spectroscopy imaging techniques such as laser ablation electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (LA ESI-MS), MALDI imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI-IMS), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) can be used to correlate changes in elemental distribution with the underlying pathology in AD brain specimens. Taken together, these techniques provide new techniques to probe the pathobiology of AD and pave the way for identifying new therapeutic targets. The current review aims to discuss the advantages and challenges of using these emerging elemental and molecular imaging techniques, and highlight clinical achievements in AD research using bioimaging techniques.
doi:10.3389/fnagi.2014.00138
PMCID: PMC4098123  PMID: 25076902
LA-ICPMS; metals; Alzheimer's disease; bioimaging; MALDI; FTIR
5.  Atmospheric-pressure Molecular Imaging of Biological Tissues and Biofilms by LAESI Mass Spectrometry 
Ambient ionization methods in mass spectrometry allow analytical investigations to be performed directly on a tissue or biofilm under native-like experimental conditions. Laser ablation electrospray ionization (LAESI) is one such development and is particularly well-suited for the investigation of water-containing specimens. LAESI utilizes a mid-infrared laser beam (2.94 μm wavelength) to excite the water molecules of the sample. When the ablation fluence threshold is exceeded, the sample material is expelled in the form of particulate matter and these projectiles travel to tens of millimeters above the sample surface. In LAESI, this ablation plume is intercepted by highly charged droplets to capture a fraction of the ejected sample material and convert its chemical constituents into gas-phase ions. A mass spectrometer equipped with an atmospheric-pressure ion source interface is employed to analyze and record the composition of the released ions originating from the probed area (pixel) of the sample. A systematic interrogation over an array of pixels opens a way for molecular imaging in the microprobe analysis mode. A unique aspect of LAESI mass spectrometric imaging is depth profiling that, in combination with lateral imaging, enables three-dimensional (3D) molecular imaging. With current lateral and depth resolutions of ~100 μm and ~40 μm, respectively, LAESI mass spectrometric imaging helps to explore the molecular structure of biological tissues. Herein, we review the major elements of a LAESI system and provide guidelines for a successful imaging experiment.
doi:10.3791/2097
PMCID: PMC3157867  PMID: 20834223
6.  MALDI Imaging Mass Spectrometry of Neuropeptides in Parkinson's Disease 
MALDI imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) is a powerful approach that facilitates the spatial analysis of molecular species in biological tissue samples2 (Fig.1). A 12 μm thin tissue section is covered with a MALDI matrix, which facilitates desorption and ionization of intact peptides and proteins that can be detected with a mass analyzer, typically using a MALDI TOF/TOF mass spectrometer. Generally hundreds of peaks can be assessed in a single rat brain tissue section. In contrast to commonly used imaging techniques, this approach does not require prior knowledge of the molecules of interest and allows for unsupervised and comprehensive analysis of multiple molecular species while maintaining high molecular specificity and sensitivity2. Here we describe a MALDI IMS based approach for elucidating region-specific distribution profiles of neuropeptides in the rat brain of an animal model Parkinson's disease (PD).
PD is a common neurodegenerative disease with a prevalence of 1% for people over 65 of age3,4. The most common symptomatic treatment is based on dopamine replacement using L-DOPA5. However this is accompanied by severe side effects including involuntary abnormal movements, termed L-DOPA-induced dyskinesias (LID)1,3,6. One of the most prominent molecular change in LID is an upregulation of the opioid precursor prodynorphin mRNA7. The dynorphin peptides modulate neurotransmission in brain areas that are essentially involved in movement control7,8. However, to date the exact opioid peptides that originate from processing of the neuropeptide precursor have not been characterized. Therefore, we utilized MALDI IMS in an animal model of experimental Parkinson's disease and L-DOPA induced dyskinesia.
MALDI imaging mass spectrometry proved to be particularly advantageous with respect to neuropeptide characterization, since commonly used antibody based approaches targets known peptide sequences and previously observed post-translational modifications. By contrast MALDI IMS can unravel novel peptide processing products and thus reveal new molecular mechanisms of neuropeptide modulation of neuronal transmission. While the absolute amount of neuropeptides cannot be determined by MALDI IMS, the relative abundance of peptide ions can be delineated from the mass spectra, giving insights about changing levels in health and disease. In the examples presented here, the peak intensities of dynorphin B, alpha-neoendorphin and substance P were found to be significantly increased in the dorsolateral, but not the dorsomedial, striatum of animals with severe dyskinesia involving facial, trunk and orolingual muscles (Fig. 5). Furthermore, MALDI IMS revealed a correlation between dyskinesia severity and levels of des-tyrosine alpha-neoendorphin, representing a previously unknown mechanism of functional inactivation of dynorphins in the striatum as the removal of N-terminal tyrosine reduces the dynorphin's opioid-receptor binding capacity9. This is the first study on neuropeptide characterization in LID using MALDI IMS and the results highlight the potential of the technique for application in all fields of biomedical research.
doi:10.3791/3445
PMCID: PMC3529518  PMID: 22370902
Medicine; Issue 60; Parkinson's disease; L-DOPA induced dyskinesia; striatum; opioid peptides; MALDI Imaging MS
7.  Mass Spectrometry Imaging under Ambient Conditions 
Mass spectrometry reviews  2012;32(3):218-243.
Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) has emerged as an important tool in the last decade and it is beginning to show potential to provide new information in many fields owing to its unique ability to acquire molecularly specific images and to provide multiplexed information, without the need for labeling or staining. In MSI, the chemical identity of molecules present on a surface is investigated as a function of spatial distribution. In addition to now standard methods involving MSI in vacuum, recently developed ambient ionization techniques allow MSI to be performed under atmospheric pressure on untreated samples outside the mass spectrometer. Here we review recent developments and applications of MSI emphasizing the ambient ionization techniques of desorption electrospray ionization (DESI), laser ablation electrospray ionization (LAESI), probe electrospray ionization (PESI), desorption atmospheric pressure photoionization (DAPPI), femtosecond laser desorption ionization (fs-LDI), laser electrospray mass spectrometry (LEMS), infrared laser ablation metastable-induced chemical ionization (IR-LAMICI), liquid microjunction surface sampling probe mass spectrometry (LMJ-SSP MS), nanospray desorption electrospray ionization (nano-DESI), and plasma sources such as the low temperature plasma (LTP) probe and laser ablation coupled to flowing atmospheric-pressure afterglow (LA-FAPA). Included are discussions of some of the features of ambient MSI including the ability to implement chemical reactions with the goal of providing high abundance ions characteristic of specific compounds of interest and the use of tandem mass spectrometry to either map the distribution of targeted molecules with high specificity or to provide additional MS information in the structural identification of compounds. We also describe the role of bioinformatics in acquiring and interpreting the chemical and spatial information obtained through MSI, especially in biological applications for tissue diagnostic purposes. Finally, we discuss the challenges in ambient MSI and include perspectives on the future of the field.
doi:10.1002/mas.21360
PMCID: PMC3530640  PMID: 22996621
mass spectrometry; imaging; ambient ionization; ionization techniques; review
8.  Disease Biomarkers in Cerebrospinal Fluid of Patients with First-Onset Psychosis 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(11):e428.
Background
Psychosis is a severe mental condition that is characterized by a loss of contact with reality and is typically associated with hallucinations and delusional beliefs. There are numerous psychiatric conditions that present with psychotic symptoms, most importantly schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, and some forms of severe depression referred to as psychotic depression. The pathological mechanisms resulting in psychotic symptoms are not understood, nor is it understood whether the various psychotic illnesses are the result of similar biochemical disturbances. The identification of biological markers (so-called biomarkers) of psychosis is a fundamental step towards a better understanding of the pathogenesis of psychosis and holds the potential for more objective testing methods.
Methods and Findings
Surface-enhanced laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry was employed to profile proteins and peptides in a total of 179 cerebrospinal fluid samples (58 schizophrenia patients, 16 patients with depression, five patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder, ten patients with Alzheimer disease, and 90 controls). Our results show a highly significant differential distribution of samples from healthy volunteers away from drug-naïve patients with first-onset paranoid schizophrenia. The key alterations were the up-regulation of a 40-amino acid VGF-derived peptide, the down-regulation of transthyretin at ~4 kDa, and a peptide cluster at ~6,800–7,300 Da (which is likely to be influenced by the doubly charged ions of the transthyretin protein cluster). These schizophrenia-specific protein/peptide changes were replicated in an independent sample set. Both experiments achieved a specificity of 95% and a sensitivity of 80% or 88% in the initial study and in a subsequent validation study, respectively.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that the application of modern proteomics techniques, particularly mass spectrometric approaches, holds the potential to advance the understanding of the biochemical basis of psychiatric disorders and may in turn allow for the development of diagnostics and improved therapeutics. Further studies are required to validate the clinical effectiveness and disease specificity of the identified biomarkers.
Protein profiles from 179 cerebrospinal fluid samples yield differences between patients with psychotic disorders and healthy volunteers, suggesting that such biomarkers could assist in the early diagnosis of mental illness.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Psychosis is an abnormal mental state characterized by loss of contact with reality, often associated with hallucinations, delusions, personality changes, and disorganized thinking. Psychotic symptoms occur in several psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression. It is not clear what the underlying biological abnormalities in the brain are, and whether they are the same for the different psychotic illnesses. The hope is that recent advances in brain imaging and systematic characterization of genetic activity and protein composition in the brain might help to shed light on mental diseases, eventually leading to better diagnosis, treatment, and possibly even prevention.
Why Was This Study Done?
This study was carried out in order to search for biomarkers for psychosis and schizophrenia by comparing the protein composition in the cerebrospinal fluid (the clear body fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord) of patients with different psychotic disorders and normal individuals who served as controls.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a technique called surface-enhanced laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry, which allows a comprehensive analysis of the protein composition of a particular sample, on a total of 179 cerebrospinal fluid samples. The samples came from 90 individuals without mental illness who served as controls, 58 people with schizophrenia who were very recently diagnosed and had not yet taken any medication, 16 patients with depression, five patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and ten patients with Alzheimer disease. All of the patients gave their informed consent to participate in the study. The researchers found that samples from treatment-naïve schizophrenic patients had a number of characteristic changes compared with samples from control individuals, and that those changes were not found in the patients with other mental illnesses. The researchers then wanted to test whether they would see the same pattern in a separate set of patients with schizophrenia versus controls, which turned out to be the case. Two of the changes in the cerebrospinal fluid that were associated with schizophrenia, namely higher levels of parts of a protein called VGF and lower levels of a protein called transthyretin, were also found in post-mortem brain samples of patients with schizophrenia compared with samples from controls. Lower levels of transthyretin were also found in serum (blood) of first-onset drug naïve schizophrenia patients.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results suggest that this approach has the potential to find biomarkers for psychosis and, possibly, schizophrenia that might help in the understanding of the molecular basis for these conditions. If shown, in future studies, to be directly involved in causing the disease symptoms, they would be important targets for treatment and prevention efforts, and might also be useful for diagnostic purposes. Overall, there are promising examples, such as this study, suggesting that new molecular techniques can yield fresh insights into psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. Additional studies are needed to confirm the findings presented here and to address many open questions, and would seem well justified given these results.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030428.
MedlinePlus entries on psychosis and schizophrenia
The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
The Schizophrenia Society of Canada
Wikipedia entries on psychosis and schizophrenia (note that Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030428
PMCID: PMC1630717  PMID: 17090210
9.  Simultaneous detection and localization of secondary ions and electrons from single large cluster impacts 
Surface and interface analysis : SIA  2013;45(1):10.1002/sia.4949.
The use of large cluster primary ions (e.g. C60, Au400) in secondary ion mass spectrometry has become prevalent in recent years due to their enhanced emission of secondary ions, in particular, molecular ions (MW ≤ 1500 Da). The co-emission of electrons with SIs was investigated per projectile impact. It has been found that SI and electrons yields increased with increasing projectile energy and size. The use of the emitted electrons from impacts of C60 for localization has been demonstrated for cholesterol deposited on a copper grid. The instrumentation, methodologies, and results from these experiments are presented.
doi:10.1002/sia.4949
PMCID: PMC3807816  PMID: 24163488
Electron Emission Microscope; Cluster SIMS; Electron Emission; Localization
10.  Molecular Depth Profiling using a C60 Cluster Beam: the Role of Impact Energy 
Molecular depth profiling of organic overlayers was performed using a mass selected C60 ion beam in conjunction with time-of-flight (TOF-SIMS) mass spectrometry. The characteristics of sputter depth profiles acquired for a 300-nm Trehalose film on silicon were studied as a function of the kinetic impact energy of the projectile ions. The results are interpreted in terms of a simple model describing the balance between sputter erosion and ion induced chemical damage. It is shown that the efficiency of the projectile to clean up the fragmentation debris produced by its own impact represents a key parameter governing the success of molecular depth profile analysis.
doi:10.1021/jp8049763
PMCID: PMC2662745  PMID: 19855815
11.  Which is more important in bioimaging SIMS experiments—The sample preparation or the nature of the projectile? 
Applied surface science  2008;255(4):1298-1304.
Sample preparation is central to acquiring meaningful molecule-specific images with SIMS, especially when submicron lateral resolution is involved. The issue is to maintain the distribution of target molecules while attempting to introduce biological cells or tissue into the high vacuum environment of the mass spectrometer. Here we compare freeze-drying, freeze-etching, freeze-fracture and trehalose vitrification as possible strategies for these experiments. The results show that the prospects for successful imaging experiments are greatly improved with all of these methods when using cluster ion bombardment, particularly C60+ ions, not only due to increased sensitivity of this projectiles, but also since it removes contamination overlayers without insult to the underlying chemistry. The emergence of 3-dimensional imaging capabilities also suggests that sample preparation should not perturb the 3-dimensional morphology of the cell, a situation not generally possible during freeze-drying. Hence, sample preparation and projectile type are strongly coupled parameters for bioimaging with mass spectrometry.
doi:10.1016/j.apsusc.2008.05.139
PMCID: PMC2700758  PMID: 19554199
Bioimaging; Cluster SIMS; Freeze-fracture; Freeze-etching; C60; Vitrification
12.  Surface characterization of biological nanodomains using NP-ToF-SIMS 
Surface and interface analysis : SIA  2013;45(1):10.1002/sia.4901.
This paper describes the application of nanoparticle bombardment with time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (NP-ToF-SIMS) for the analysis of native biological surfaces for the case of sagittal sections of mammalian brain tissue. The use of high energy, single nanoparticle impacts (e.g. 520 keV Au400) permits desorption of intact lipid molecular ions, with enhanced molecular ion yield and reduced fragmentation. When coupled with complementary molecular ion fragmentation and exact mass measurement analysis, high energy nanoparticle probes (e.g. 520 keV Au400 NP) provide a powerful tool for the analysis of the lipid components from native brain sections without the need for surface preparation and with ultimate spatial resolution limited to the desorption volume per impact (~103 nm3).
doi:10.1002/sia.4901
PMCID: PMC3808454  PMID: 24163489
NP-ToF-SIMS; MALDI-FT-ICR-MS
13.  Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins C1/C2 identified as autoantigens by biochemical and mass spectrometric methods 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(5):407-414.
The antigenic specificity of an unusual antinuclear antibody pattern in three patient sera was identified after separating HeLa-cell nuclear extracts by two-dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis and localizing the antigens by immunoblotting with patient serum. Protein spots were excised from the 2D gel and their contents were analyzed by matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization (MALDI) or nanoelectrospray ionization time-of-flight (TOF) tandem mass spectrometry (MS) after in-gel digestion with trypsin. A database search identified the proteins as the C1 and C2 heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins. The clinical spectrum of patients with these autoantibodies includes arthritis, psoriasis, myositis, and scleroderma. None of 59 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 19 with polymyositis, 33 with scleroderma, and 10 with psoriatic arthritis had similar antibodies. High-resolution protein-separation methods and mass-spectrometric peptide mapping in combination with database searches are powerful tools in the identification of novel autoantigen specificities.
Introduction:
The classification of antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) is important for diagnosis and prognosis and for understanding the molecular pathology of autoimmune disease. Many of the proteins that associate with RNA in the ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes of the spliceosome have been found to react with some types of ANA [1], including proteins of the heterogeneous nuclear RNP (hnRNP) complex that associate with newly transcribed pre-mRNA. Autoantibodies to the A2, B1, and B2 proteins of hnRNP found in some patients may be markers of several overlap syndromes [2]. However, ANAs with specificity for these proteins as well as for the D protein also appear to occur in many distinct connective-tissue diseases, although epitope specificities may differ [3]. ANAs with specificity for the C component of hnRNP (consisting of the C1 and C2 proteins) have to our knowledge so far been described in only one case [4]. We here describe the approach taken to unambiguously identify the C1/C2 proteins as ANA targets in the sera of some patients.
Aims:
To determine the fine specificity of sera containing an unusual speckled ANA-staining pattern using a combination of 2D gel electrophoresis and MS.
Methods:
Patient sera were screened for ANAs by indirect immunofluorescence microscopy on HEp-2 cells (cultured carcinoma cells). Sera with an unusual, very regular, speckled ANA pattern were tested for reactivity with components of nuclear extracts of HeLa cells that were separated by one-dimensional (1D) or 2D gel electrophoresis or by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). IgG reactivity was assessed by immunoblotting. Reactive protein spots from 2D separations were excised from the gels and subjected to in-gel digestion with trypsin for subsequent peptide mapping, partial peptide sequencing, and protein identification by MS and tandem MS on a hybrid electrospray ionization/quadrupole/time-of-flight (ESI-Q-TOF) mass spectrometer [5,6,7].
Results:
We observed a strong nuclear staining pattern (titer >1280) with the characteristic even-sized coarse speckles and no staining of nucleoli in sera from three patients. On immunoblots of nuclear extracts from HeLa cells, these sera stained two distinct bands, at Mr 42 000 and 41 000. There activity strongly resembled that of the patient originally described by Stanek et al [4]. The antigens were enriched by fractionating the extract using reversed-phase HPLC on a C4 column, and the two reactive spots on 2D separations were excised for identification. The two components appeared to be of approximately the same isoelectric points, although their molecular masses differed by approximately 2000. Peptide-mass mapping was performed by matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) MS on the tryptic peptide mixture generated by digestion of the two excised proteins. The database search suggested that the two proteins were C1/C2 hnRNPs (Swissprot accession number P07910). The identity of the proteins was further confirmed by tandem MS using an ESI-Q-TOF instrument. One peptide carrying two positive charges (m/z 580.32 Da), corresponding to a peptide mass of 1158.7 Da, was selected as a precursor ion and partially sequenced by collisional fragmentation. The fragmented peptide was found to represent the tryptic fragment VDSLLENLEK, ie amino acids 207-216 (C2 protein numbering). Four other peptides were partially sequenced and all of them matched the human C1/C2 hnRNP sequence. The theoretical masses of C1 and C2 are 32.0 and 33.3 kDa, respectively. The difference between the two sequences is a 13-amino-acid insert in C2 between positions 107 and 108 of C1. The presence of a specific tryptic fragment in the MALDI-TOF peptide-mass map from the higher-molecular-mass spot containing a 13-amino-acid insert that was not present in the lower-molecular-mass spot, further demonstrated that the two components represented the two isoforms of the C class of hnRNPs.
The patient whose case prompted us to investigate the specificities of these antibodies was a 72-year-old man who had arthralgias and oligoarthritis but did not fulfill the criteria for rheumatoid arthritis and did not have dermatological complaints. The reactivity of various patient groups to the C1/C2 hnRNP autoantigens was subsequently tested by immunoblotting of HeLa-cell nuclear extracts. Of 59 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 19 with polymyositis, 33 with scleroderma, and 10 with psoriatic arthritis, none had IgG antibodies reacting with the two bands. Of sera from 139 consecutive patients who had moderately to strongly positive speckled ANA patterns shown by indirect immunofluorescence on HEp-2 cells, only two reacted with the C1/C2 hnRNP bands in immunoblotting. One of these was from a young woman (22 years old) whose complaints of muscle tenderness were not explained by objective findings or abnormal laboratory test results. The third patient that we identified through ANA screening followed by immunoblotting was a 54-year-old male who was being treated with methotrexate for long-standing polymyositis in addition to psoriasis and possible osteoporosis.
Discussion:
The results confirm the existence of anti-C1/C2 antibodies in some patients with speckled ANAs. The antigens were identified through the use of biochemical methods using high-resolution separation techniques combined with mass-spectrometry peptide mapping and database searches. As a general approach, this is a powerful way to identify new antigens using small amounts of material without the need for conventional protein sequencing. The approach does require, however, that the proteins can be found in databases, that they are not extensively post-translationally modified, that they can be digested enzymatically, and that they can be isolated in appropriately pure form by the separation technique used.
It is not known at present if the C1/C2 antibodies may have pathogenic relevance and/or relate to specific diagnoses or subsets within the group of connective-tissue diseases. It does appear that the reactivity is quite rare among ANA-positive patients, and therefore many patients will have to be examined to determine these issues. The fact that the antibodies to the C1/C2 hnRNPs are revealed by indirect immunofluorescence would indicate that the epitopes are accessible in intact, fixed HEp-2 cells and thus probably reside outside the nucleic-acid-binding domains that would be expected to be covered by RNA.
PMCID: PMC17817  PMID: 11056675
antinuclear antibodies; autoantibodies; heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins C1/C2; mass spectrometry
14.  A database application for pre-processing, storage and comparison of mass spectra derived from patients and controls 
BMC Bioinformatics  2006;7:403.
Background
Statistical comparison of peptide profiles in biomarker discovery requires fast, user-friendly software for high throughput data analysis. Important features are flexibility in changing input variables and statistical analysis of peptides that are differentially expressed between patient and control groups. In addition, integration the mass spectrometry data with the results of other experiments, such as microarray analysis, and information from other databases requires a central storage of the profile matrix, where protein id's can be added to peptide masses of interest.
Results
A new database application is presented, to detect and identify significantly differentially expressed peptides in peptide profiles obtained from body fluids of patient and control groups. The presented modular software is capable of central storage of mass spectra and results in fast analysis. The software architecture consists of 4 pillars, 1) a Graphical User Interface written in Java, 2) a MySQL database, which contains all metadata, such as experiment numbers and sample codes, 3) a FTP (File Transport Protocol) server to store all raw mass spectrometry files and processed data, and 4) the software package R, which is used for modular statistical calculations, such as the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney rank sum test. Statistic analysis by the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test in R demonstrates that peptide-profiles of two patient groups 1) breast cancer patients with leptomeningeal metastases and 2) prostate cancer patients in end stage disease can be distinguished from those of control groups.
Conclusion
The database application is capable to distinguish patient Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization (MALDI-TOF) peptide profiles from control groups using large size datasets. The modular architecture of the application makes it possible to adapt the application to handle also large sized data from MS/MS- and Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance (FT-ICR) mass spectrometry experiments. It is expected that the higher resolution and mass accuracy of the FT-ICR mass spectrometry prevents the clustering of peaks of different peptides and allows the identification of differentially expressed proteins from the peptide profiles.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-7-403
PMCID: PMC1594579  PMID: 16953879
15.  T-wave Ion Mobility-mass Spectrometry: Basic Experimental Procedures for Protein Complex Analysis 
Ion mobility (IM) is a method that measures the time taken for an ion to travel through a pressurized cell under the influence of a weak electric field. The speed by which the ions traverse the drift region depends on their size: large ions will experience a greater number of collisions with the background inert gas (usually N2) and thus travel more slowly through the IM device than those ions that comprise a smaller cross-section. In general, the time it takes for the ions to migrate though the dense gas phase separates them, according to their collision cross-section (Ω).
Recently, IM spectrometry was coupled with mass spectrometry and a traveling-wave (T-wave) Synapt ion mobility mass spectrometer (IM-MS) was released. Integrating mass spectrometry with ion mobility enables an extra dimension of sample separation and definition, yielding a three-dimensional spectrum (mass to charge, intensity, and drift time). This separation technique allows the spectral overlap to decrease, and enables resolution of heterogeneous complexes with very similar mass, or mass-to-charge ratios, but different drift times. Moreover, the drift time measurements provide an important layer of structural information, as Ω is related to the overall shape and topology of the ion. The correlation between the measured drift time values and Ω is calculated using a calibration curve generated from calibrant proteins with defined cross-sections1.
The power of the IM-MS approach lies in its ability to define the subunit packing and overall shape of protein assemblies at micromolar concentrations, and near-physiological conditions1. Several recent IM studies of both individual proteins2,3 and non-covalent protein complexes4-9, successfully demonstrated that protein quaternary structure is maintained in the gas phase, and highlighted the potential of this approach in the study of protein assemblies of unknown geometry. Here, we provide a detailed description of IMS-MS analysis of protein complexes using the Synapt (Quadrupole-Ion Mobility-Time-of-Flight) HDMS instrument (Waters Ltd; the only commercial IM-MS instrument currently available)10. We describe the basic optimization steps, the calibration of collision cross-sections, and methods for data processing and interpretation. The final step of the protocol discusses methods for calculating theoretical Ω values. Overall, the protocol does not attempt to cover every aspect of IM-MS characterization of protein assemblies; rather, its goal is to introduce the practical aspects of the method to new researchers in the field.
doi:10.3791/1985
PMCID: PMC3149990  PMID: 20729801
16.  Tissue Imaging Using Nanospray Desorption Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry 
Analytical Chemistry  2011;84(1):141-148.
Ambient ionization imaging mass spectrometry is uniquely suited for detailed spatially-resolved chemical characterization of biological samples in their native environment. However, the spatial resolution attainable using existing approaches is limited by the ion transfer efficiency from the ionization region into the mass spectrometer. Here we present a first study of ambient imaging of biological samples using nanospray desorption ionization (nano-DESI). Nano-DESI is a new ambient pressure ionization technique that uses minute amounts of solvent confined between two capillaries comprising the nano-DESI probe and the solid analyte for controlled desorption of molecules present on the substrate followed by ionization through self-aspirating nanospray. We demonstrate highly sensitive spatially resolved analysis of tissue samples without sample preparation. Our first proof-of-principle experiments indicate the potential of nano-DESI for ambient imaging with a spatial resolution of better than 12 μm. The significant improvement of the spatial resolution offered by nano-DESI imaging combined with high detection efficiency will enable new imaging mass spectrometry applications in clinical diagnostics, drug discovery, molecular biology, and biochemistry.
doi:10.1021/ac2021322
PMCID: PMC3259225  PMID: 22098105
imaging mass spectrometry; nanospray desorption electrospray ionization (nano-DESI); rhodamine; tissue; spatial resolution
17.  Rapid Profiling of Bovine and Human Milk Gangliosides by Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry 
Gangliosides are anionic glycosphingolipids widely distributed in vertebrate tissues and fluids. Their structural and quantitative expression patterns depend on phylogeny and are distinct down to the species level. In milk, gangliosides are exclusively associated with the milk fat globule membrane. They may participate in diverse biological processes but more specifically to host-pathogen interactions. However, due to the molecular complexities, the analysis needs extensive sample preparation, chromatographic separation, and even chemical reaction, which makes the process very complex and time-consuming. Here, we describe a rapid profiling method for bovine and human milk gangliosides employing matrix-assisted desorption/ionization (MALDI) Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FTICR) mass spectrometry (MS). Prior to the analyses of biological samples, milk ganglioside standards GM3 and GD3 fractions were first analyzed in order to validate this method. High mass accuracy and high resolution obtained from MALDI FTICR MS allow for the confident assignment of chain length and degree of unsaturation of the ceramide. For the structural elucidation, tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS), specifically as collision-induced dissociation (CID) and infrared multiphoton dissociation (IRMPD) were employed. Complex ganglioside mixtures from bovine and human milk were further analyzed with this method. The samples were prepared by two consecutive chloroform/methanol extraction and solid phase extraction. We observed a number of differences between bovine milk and human milk. The common gangliosides in bovine and human milk are NeuAc-NeuAc-Hex-Hex-Cer (GD3) and NeuAc-Hex-Hex-Cer (GM3); whereas, the ion intensities of ganglioside species are different between two milk samples. Kendrick mass defect plot yields grouping of ganglioside peaks according to their structural similarities. Gangliosides were further probed by tandem MS to confirm the compositional and structural assignments. We found that only in human milk gangliosides was the ceramide carbon always even numbered, which is consistent with the notion that differences in the oligosaccharide and the ceramide moieties confer to their physiological distinctions.
doi:10.1016/j.ijms.2010.10.020
PMCID: PMC3158620  PMID: 21860602
Ganglioside; Bovine milk; Human milk; Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization; Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance; Kendrick mass defect
18.  Isotopologue Distributions of Peptide Product Ions by Tandem Mass Spectrometry: Quantitation of Low Levels of Deuterium Incorporation1 
Analytical biochemistry  2007;367(1):40-48.
Protonated molecular peptide ions and their product ions generated by tandem mass spectrometry appear as isotopologue clusters due to the natural isotopic variations of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur. Quantitation of the isotopic composition of peptides can be employed in experiments involving isotope effects, isotope exchange, isotopic labeling by chemical reactions, and studies of metabolism by stable isotope incorporation. Both ion trap and quadrupole-time of flight mass spectrometry are shown to be capable of determining the isotopic composition of peptide product ions obtained by tandem mass spectrometry with both precision and accuracy. Tandem mass spectra obtained in profile-mode of clusters of isotopologue ions are fit by non-linear least squares to a series of Gaussian peaks (described in the accompanying manuscript) which quantify the Mn/M0 values which define the isotopologue distribution (ID). To determine the isotopic composition of product ions from their ID, a new algorithm that predicts the Mn/M0 ratios is developed which obviates the need to determine the intensity of all of the ions of an ID. Consequently a precise and accurate determination of the isotopic composition a product ion may be obtained from only the initial values of the ID, however the entire isotopologue cluster must be isolated prior to fragmentation. Following optimization of the molecular ion isolation width, fragmentation energy and detector sensitivity, the presence of isotopic excess (2H, 13C, 15N, 18O) is readily determined within 1%. The ability to determine the isotopic composition of sequential product ions permits the isotopic composition of individual amino acid residues in the precursor ion to be determined.
doi:10.1016/j.ab.2007.03.036
PMCID: PMC2153461  PMID: 17559791
isotopologue distribution; mass isotopomer distribution; tandem mass spectrometry; deuterium incorporation; isotopic excess; isotope quantitation; H/D exchange; protein turnover
19.  Lipid Imaging with Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2011;1811(11):976-990.
Fundamental advances in secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) now allow for the examination and characterization of lipids directly from biological materials. The successful application of SIMS-based imaging in the investigation of lipids directly from tissue and cells are demonstrated. Common complications and technical pitfalls are discussed. In this review, we examine the use of cluster ion sources and cryogenically compatible sample handling for improved ion yields and to expand the application potential of SIMS. Methodological improvements, including pre-treating the sample to improve ion yields and protocol development for 3-dimensional analyses (i.e. molecular depth profiling), are also included in this discussion. New high performance SIMS instruments showcasing the most advanced instrumental developments, including tandem MS capabilities and continuous ion beam compatibility, are described and the future direction for SIMS in lipid imaging is evaluated.
doi:10.1016/j.bbalip.2011.05.007
PMCID: PMC3199347  PMID: 21664291
ToF-SIMS; lipids; cluster sources; sample preparation; C60+QSTAR; J105 3D Chemical Imager and imaging mass spectrometry (IMS)
20.  LC-IMS-MS Feature Finder: detecting multidimensional liquid chromatography, ion mobility and mass spectrometry features in complex datasets 
Bioinformatics  2013;29(21):2804-2805.
Motivation: The addition of ion mobility spectrometry to liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry experiments requires new, or updated, software tools to facilitate data processing.
Results: We introduce a command line software application LC-IMS-MS Feature Finder that searches for molecular ion signatures in multidimensional liquid chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry-mass spectrometry (LC-IMS-MS) data by clustering deisotoped peaks with similar monoisotopic mass, charge state, LC elution time and ion mobility drift time values. The software application includes an algorithm for detecting and quantifying co-eluting chemical species, including species that exist in multiple conformations that may have been separated in the IMS dimension.
Availability: LC-IMS-MS Feature Finder is available as a command-line tool for download at http://omics.pnl.gov/software/LC-IMS-MS_Feature_Finder.php. The Microsoft.NET Framework 4.0 is required to run the software. All other dependencies are included with the software package. Usage of this software is limited to non-profit research to use (see README).
Contact: rds@pnnl.gov
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btt465
PMCID: PMC3799467  PMID: 24008421
21.  Targeted Multiplex Imaging Mass Spectrometry in Transmission Geometry for Subcellular Spatial Resolution 
Targeted multiplex Imaging Mass Spectrometry utilizes several different antigen-specific primary antibodies, each directly labeled with a unique photocleavable mass tag, to detect multiple antigens in a single tissue section. Each photocleavable mass tag bound to an antibody has a unique molecular weight and can be readily ionized by laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry. This manuscript describes a mass spectrometry method that allows imaging of targeted single cells within tissue using transmission geometry laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry. Transmission geometry focuses the laser beam on the back side of the tissue placed on a glass slide, providing a 2 μm diameter laser spot irradiating the biological specimen. This matrix-free method enables simultaneous localization at the sub-cellular level of multiple antigens using specific tagged antibodies. We have used this technology to visualize the co-expression of synaptophysin and two major hormones peptides, insulin and somatostatin, in duplex assays in beta and delta cells contained in a human pancreatic islet.
doi:10.1007/s13361-012-0563-z
PMCID: PMC3624063  PMID: 23397138
Targeted multiplex mass spectrometry imaging; laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry; transmission geometry; photocleavable mass tag; antibodies; immunohistochemistry; sub-cellular spatial resolution
22.  Mass spectrometry imaging with high resolution in mass and space 
Histochemistry and Cell Biology  2013;139(6):759-783.
Mass spectrometry (MS) imaging links molecular information and the spatial distribution of analytes within a sample. In contrast to most histochemical techniques, mass spectrometry imaging can differentiate molecular modifications and does not require labeling of targeted compounds. We have recently introduced the first mass spectrometry imaging method that provides highly specific molecular information (high resolution and accuracy in mass) at cellular dimensions (high resolution in space). This method is based on a matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) imaging source working at atmospheric pressure which is coupled to an orbital trapping mass spectrometer. Here, we present a number of application examples and demonstrate the benefit of ‘mass spectrometry imaging with high resolution in mass and space.’ Phospholipids, peptides and drug compounds were imaged in a number of tissue samples at a spatial resolution of 5–10 μm. Proteins were analyzed after on-tissue tryptic digestion at 50-μm resolution. Additional applications include the analysis of single cells and of human lung carcinoma tissue as well as the first MALDI imaging measurement of tissue at 3 μm pixel size. MS image analysis for all these experiments showed excellent correlation with histological staining evaluation. The high mass resolution (R = 30,000) and mass accuracy (typically 1 ppm) proved to be essential for specific image generation and reliable identification of analytes in tissue samples. The ability to combine the required high-quality mass analysis with spatial resolution in the range of single cells is a unique feature of our method. With that, it has the potential to supplement classical histochemical protocols and to provide new insights about molecular processes on the cellular level.
doi:10.1007/s00418-013-1097-6
PMCID: PMC3656243  PMID: 23652571
Mass spectrometry imaging; Tissue analysis; High-resolution mass spectrometry; Accurate mass measurements; Mass spectrometry-based histology; MALDI mass spectrometry
23.  The Means: Cytometry and Mass Spectrometry Converge in a Single Cell Deep Profiling Platform 
Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a distinct flavor of mass spectrometry that has had little association with cell biology: it remains the state of the art for the determination of the atomic composition of materials. Unrelatedly, flow cytometry is the superior method for distinguishing the heterogeneity of cells through the determination of antigen signatures using tagged antibodies. Simply replacing fluorophore tags with stable isotopes of the heavy metals, and measuring these cell-by-cell with ICP-MS, dramatically increases the number of probes that can be simultaneously measured in cytometry and enables a transformative increase in the resolution of rare cell populations in complex biological samples. While this can be thought of as a novel incarnation of single-cell targeted proteomics, the metal-labeling reagents, ICP-MS of single cells, and accompanying informatics comprise a new field of technology termed Mass Cytometry.
While the conception of mass cytometry is simple the embodiment to address the issues of multi-parameter flow cytometry has been far more challenging. There are many elements, and many more stable isotopes of those elements, that might be used as distinct reporter tags. Still, there are many approaches to conjugating metals to antibodies (or other affinity reagents) and work in this area along with developing new applications is ongoing. The mass resolution and linear (quantitative) dynamic range of ICP-MS allows those many stable isotopes to be measured simultaneously and without the spectral overlap issues that limit fluorescence assay. However, the adaptation of ICP-MS to allow high-speed simultaneous measurement with single cell distinction at high throughput required innovation of the cell introduction system, ion optics (sampling, transmission and beam-shaping), mass analysis, and signal handling and processing. An overview of “the nuts and bolts” of Mass Cytometry is presented.
PMCID: PMC3635304
24.  Metabolic Profiling of Escherichia coli by Ion Mobility-Mass Spectrometry with MALDI Ion Source 
Journal of mass spectrometry : JMS  2010;45(12):1383-1393.
Comprehensive metabolome analysis using mass spectrometry (MS) often results in a complex mass spectrum and difficult data analysis resulting from the signals of numerous small molecules in the metabolome. In addition, mass spectrometry alone has difficulty measuring isobars and chiral, conformational, and structural isomers. When a matrix assisted laser desorption ionization source (MALDI) is added, the difficulty and complexity are further increased. Signal interference between analyte signals and matrix ion signals produced by MALDI in the low mass region (<1500 Da) cause detection and or identification of metabolites difficult by mass spectrometry alone.
However, ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) coupled with MS (IM-MS) provides a rapid analytical tool for measuring subtle structural differences in chemicals. IMS separates gas phase ions based on their size-to-charge ratio. This study, for the first time, reports the application of MALDI to the measurement of small molecules in a biological matrix by Ion Mobility-Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (IM-TOFMS) and demonstrates the advantage of ion-signal dispersion in the second dimension. Qualitative comparisons between metabolic profiling of the Escherichia coli metabolome by MALDI-TOFMS, MALDI-IM-TOFMS, and ESI-IM-TOFMS (electrospray ionization) are reported. Results demonstrate that mobility separation prior to mass analysis increases peak-capacity through added dimensionality in measurement. Mobility separation also allows detection of metabolites in the matrix-ion dominated low-mass range (m/z < 1500 Da) by separating matrix-signals from non-matrix signals in mobility space.
doi:10.1002/jms.1850
PMCID: PMC3012737  PMID: 20967735
Ion mobility-Mass Spectrometry; Metabolomics; Escherichia coli; MALDI; ESI; Peak Capacity
25.  The quantitative proteomes of human-induced pluripotent stem cells and embryonic stem cells 
An in-depth proteomic comparison of human-induced pluripotent stem cells, and their parent fibroblast cells, with embryonic stem cells shows that the reprogramming process comprehensively remodels protein expression levels, creating cells that closely resemble natural stem cells.
We present here a large proteomic characterization of human embryonic stem cells, human-induced pluripotent stem cells and their parental fibroblasts cell lines.Overall, 97.8% of the 2683 quantified proteins in four experiments showed no significant differences in abundance between hESC and hiPSC highlighting the high similarity of these pluripotent cell lines.In total, 58 proteins were found significantly differentially expressed between hiPSCs and hESCs. The observed low overlap of these proteins with previous transcriptomic studies suggests that those differences do no reflect a recurrent molecular signature.
Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are capable of self-renewal and multi-lineage differentiation. However, the use of hESCs for clinical treatment entails ethical issues as they are derived from human embryos. Recently, reprogramming of somatic cells to an embryonic stem cell-like state, named induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), was achieved through ectopic expression of defined factors. In addition to their clinical potential, hiPSCs represent a unique tool to develop cellular models for human diseases as well. Although current functional assays (e.g., tetraploid complementation) have confirmed the pluripotency of hiPSCs, there might still be significant differences (e.g., differentiation potential) when compared with their natural hESCs counterparts. Consequently, an extensive molecular characterization to address differences and similarities between these two pluripotent cell lines seems to be a prerequisite before any clinical application is conducted. Despite that great efforts, mainly at the genomic levels, have been made to address how similar hESCs and hiPSCs are, the definite answer to this fundamental question is currently still debated. Direct assessment of protein levels has yet to be incorporated into these integrative systems-level analyses. Protein levels are tuned by intricate mechanisms of gene expression regulation and it has recently been documented that mRNA and protein levels poorly correlate in mouse ESCs. Here, we use in-depth quantitative proteomics to gain insights into the differences and similarities in the protein content of two hiPS cell lines, their precursor IMR90 and 4Skin fibroblast cell lines and one hES cell line, providing novel molecular signatures that may assist in filling a gap in the understanding of pluripotency.
To study the degree of similarity, at the protein level, between hiPSCs and hESCs, four MS-based proteomic experiments were designed that use our in-house developed triplex dimethyl labeling chemistry followed by extensive fractionation by strong cation exchange (SCX) chromatography to reduce the sample complexity. High-resolution LC-MS/MS with dedicated fragmentation schemes (i.e., electron transfer dissociation, collision-induced dissociation and higher-energy collision dissociation) was subsequently used to maximize peptide identification rates. A total of 348 LC-MS/MS analyses (including technical and biological replicates) were performed. We confidently identified 1 593 446 peptide spectrum matches (peptide FDR<1%) corresponding to 10 628 unique protein groups (protein FDR∼4%). Using the extracted ion chromatograms, we also estimated the absolute abundance of the proteins within the samples spanning six orders of magnitude. To the best of our knowledge, the coverage obtained in this study represents the largest achieved by any proteomics screen on pluripotent cells.
Most importantly, our results indicate that the reprogramming process remodeled the proteome of both fibroblast cell lines to a profile that closely resembles the pluripotent hESCs proteome: 97.8% of the quantified proteins (2638 proteins in all four experiments) showed nonsignificant changes. Nevertheless, a small fraction of 58 proteins, mainly related to metabolism, antigen processing and cell adhesion, was found significantly regulated between hiPSCs and hESCs. A comparison of the regulated proteins to previously published transcriptomic studies showed a low overlap, highlighting the emerging notion that differences between both pluripotent cell lines rather reflect experimental conditions than a recurrent molecular signature. On the other side, the inclusion of the two parental fibroblast cell lines in our analysis allowed us to study changes in the proteome at both the starting and end points of the reprogramming process. As expected, the vast majority of the proteins (73.4%) showed differential expression between the parental fibroblasts and the reprogrammed pluripotent cells.
To find out if the differences observed in our study were a consequence of transcriptional or translational regulation, we performed paired genome-wide gene expression analyses on the same six samples that were used for the proteomic profiling. Overall, we observed a good correlation between mRNA and protein levels (r∼0.7). These results further authenticated the proteomic measurements and implied a high degree of control at the transcriptional level. Nevertheless, numerous genes were found uncorrelated highlighting the necessity of complementing transcriptomic-based approaches with proteomics.
Assessing relevant molecular differences between human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is important, given that such differences may impact their potential therapeutic use. Controversy surrounds recent gene expression studies comparing hiPSCs and hESCs. Here, we present an in-depth quantitative mass spectrometry-based analysis of hESCs, two different hiPSCs and their precursor fibroblast cell lines. Our comparisons confirmed the high similarity of hESCs and hiPSCS at the proteome level as 97.8% of the proteins were found unchanged. Nevertheless, a small group of 58 proteins, mainly related to metabolism, antigen processing and cell adhesion, was found significantly differentially expressed between hiPSCs and hESCs. A comparison of the regulated proteins with previously published transcriptomic studies showed a low overlap, highlighting the emerging notion that differences between both pluripotent cell lines rather reflect experimental conditions than a recurrent molecular signature.
doi:10.1038/msb.2011.84
PMCID: PMC3261715  PMID: 22108792
human embryonic stem cells; human-induced pluripotent stem cells; proteomics; quantitation

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